Author: Lydia Sung
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/resident_evil_6/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
We’ve all heard the “Crapcom” jokes before, all the complaints that the publisher is slowly killing their most iconic franchises. And if Resident Evil 6 is any indication, Capcom has little interest in repairing that slowly crumbling reputation.
Gaze upon Resident Evil 6 and despair. Here is perhaps the most ambitious action game to date, boasting a massive cast across four campaigns, each long enough to be an entirely separate game. All of the main campaigns revolves around a familiar character and pairs him/her with someone new. Leon Kennedy gets Helena Harper, Chris Redfield has Piers Nivans, and Sherry Birkin (Why is she even an agent?) is partnered with Jake Muller. As for the fourth campaign, that’s something extra you’ll unlock for completing the first three, starring everyone’s favorite Chinese secret agent.
Out of the gate, Resident Evil 6 dares us to believe that Capcom didn’t completely forget about the series’ survival horror roots. Leon and Helena inspire memories of Resident Evil past, with the same creaky floorboards and stormy nights. Even Leon himself sighs, “I can't believe this is happening again. It's just like Raccoon."
Well, maybe not just like Raccoon. At the end of the day, Leon’s campaign is no less action than Chris’ or Jake’s, despite that thin veneer of suspense and horror. Resident Evil 5 marked the franchise’s transformation from horror to action, and this evolution continues on through Resident Evil 6. On the bright side, Capcom saw fit to give players plenty of options for a more customized experience. If objective markers aren’t your thing, those can be turned off in the menu. Should the camera or aiming speed be less than ideal, adjust the sensitivity levels for a better feel.
Even the cooperative aspect saw improvements. At the start of every game, the host can set various guidelines, like making the game private or turning off the PVP Agent Hunt mode; that last one is important, because players will randomly join as zombies if you don’t turn it off, making your progression largely painful. Still, the effort to build upon what Resident Evil 5 started is apparent, even if the AI could still use some fine-tuning.
Players can now aim and move simultaneously, which is a pretty big deal as far as Resident Evil is concerned. The health system has also been overhauled, so health is displayed as a notched bar. As you take damage, you’ll lose increments of health, but so long as a notch isn’t completely depleted, that will fill back up. First aid is still required for keeping your health up, otherwise, and herbs aren’t exactly plentiful. Ammo, on the other hand, now grows on trees – or crates, as the case tends to be. And while the new inventory may take some getting used to, the game does allow players to hotkey health items, and gunfighting feels a tad more streamlined than it was in previous installments. On top of the whole walk-and-shoot thing, you can now perform “quick shots” (similar to blind firing) and utilize the terrain, whether by dropping to the floor or ducking behind cover. Most of these changes feel rather superfluous, however, and at the end of the day, karate kicks and elbow jabs are your best friends in the fight against zombies.
Giving players more freedom of movement is never a bad thing, but Resident Evil still has a long way to go before it can contend with other action shooters. Despite the changes Capcom made, the combat in Resident Evil 6 is still incredibly cumbersome compared to the other games it’s now trying to compete against. One prime example is how the game handles something as minor as climbing up and down uneven ground, like scaffolding or a boarding platform. Having to press A just to scale a couple feet seems unnecessary, even jarring if you’re coming out of a dash or in the middle of a fight.
Perhaps the most annoying feature that just won’t go away is quick time events, better known as QTEs. This outdated mechanic is used sparingly in most action games now, typically to give cutscenes an interactive quality or as optional challenges that might unlock a special sequence or shortcut. Capcom, on the other hand, seem unwilling to retire it. Not only that, but they practically abuse QTEs in Resident Evil 6, cramming one into nearly every cutscene or enemy encounter I can recall. Even worse, QTEs in the game are still mandatory, popping up during those pesky “life or death” segments where failing to immediately react awards you with a game over screen.
Few action games are so overtly ambitious as Resident Evil 6. Each of the game’s three primary campaigns stretches long enough to be three separate titles, but quantity and quality rarely go hand in hand. The overall pacing is rather poor, no matter whose subplot you’re playing through, and more than once, I’ve checked the menu after a session and groaned as I realized I was still stuck in the same chapter. In the game’s defense, Leon and Helena’s story is an admirable attempt to bring back some of the classic Resident Evil flavor, regardless of Capcom’s inability to keep explosions and driving sequences out of the mix. The dynamic between these two is also the strongest of the bunch, and unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there.
Chris and Piers’ campaign is unabashedly action driven, sharing more similarities with Call of Duty than any survival horror title I can think of. Only problem is, Call of Duty has a clearly defined identity, whereas Resident Evil 6 doesn’t. Here is where the game’s identity crisis is most apparent, when we’re taken from a small New England town to a sprawling urban environment turned into a warzone by the C-Virus. While the enemies Leon and Helena faced weren’t exactly inspired – Left 4 Dead and Dead Island did a better job with all the different zombie types – they’re a heck of a lot more interesting than the armed thugs (varieties of J’avo) Chris and Piers have to shoot their way through. Chris is also much less likable as a character now, even with normal-sized biceps. That is, unless you find man-tantrums an attractive thing.
The third campaign belongs to newcomer Jake and Resident Evil 2’s Sherry, who is somehow caught up in all this BSAA nonsense despite being 16 years old. Ignoring how little sense her presence makes, both these characters – and Piers – have about as much depth as a collection of cardboard cutouts. In action, Sherry doesn’t really stand out either, but that’s a blessing compared to Jake’s supposed melee prowess. The game would have us believe that this snarky young man is some kind of brawler, an expert in hand-to-hand combat, more dangerous unarmed than armed. That’s all well and good, but this reputation really isn’t executed too well gameplay-wise. In short, Jake just isn’t very fun to play as. His and Sherry’s subplot isn’t nearly as horrendous as Chris and Pier’s, at least, and takes some inspiration from Resident Evil 3 with the whole Nemesis thing. Except the new guy’s name is Ustanak, and he’s kind of silly as far as monster zombie freakshows go.
Perhaps the strongest storyline goes to Ada Wong, and her campaign doesn’t even get co-op. Unfortunately, you do need to get through the rest of the game before her story is unlocked, and I’m not certain it’s worth that much effort, no matter how kickass Ada is. At the very least, her dry sense of humor brings some welcome respite, especially now that Leon has completely lost his.
Resident Evil 6 may have some redeeming qualities, but they are few and minor. The voice acting is surprisingly well-done, even if dialogue falls short. The co-op is also solid, though having a friend along for the ride doesn’t make the experience any less abysmal. What dooms Resident Evil 6 is apparent: it has no real identity. The two preceding games, Resident Evil 5 and Raccoon City, convinced us that the series was no longer survival horror, and that’s fine if Capcom actually committed to the transition. Instead, they’re apparently unwilling to admit that Resident Evil just isn’t scary anymore, evidenced by the latest installment. Again, that’d be fine if Capcom actually stuck to the idea and worked with it, rather than forcing action and horror into a single package. The results are just plain disastrous, not to mention painful for Resident Evil fans who were deceived by what little has been shown.
In truth, Resident Evil 6 wouldn’t have been nearly as terrible if it stuck with Leon and Helena. Instead, we have a game that is over encumbered and drowning under its own weight. Rather than trying to appease action and horror fans, the developers would have been better off choosing one and sticking to it. I can see what they were trying to do with the multiple campaigns, and the idea is rather clever from a storytelling perspective. That doesn’t actually work, however, unless the game has a strong narrative backing it up, which Resident Evil 6 also lacks. The series is tired, worn out from being jerked back and forth, and as much as it pains me to say, Resident Evil might be better off dead, its memory kept alive by HD remakes and swag-tastic collector’s bundles. That, or Capcom can finally decide once and for all what the hell they want out of Resident Evil before attempting to salvage the franchise.
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